USDA will send four veterinary specialists to Rome to assist the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization launch of a new crisis management center that will enhance worldwide response to animal disease. The Center will begin operations by end-July at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.
The Crisis Management Center, a facility run by the FAO in close collaboration with the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) will provide animal disease analysis and information and deploy international resources to prevent and contain dangerous animal diseases. The current focus will be on highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza that continues to spread throughout the world.
The United States will provide $1.8 million to FAO to create the Center. Other contributors include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
"All nations will benefit as we work to reduce the risk and spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza," says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "The international community has a responsibility to equip countries, particularly developing countries, with the expertise and resources necessary for a rapid and effective response to any possible animal disease outbreaks."
The FAO operations are aimed at:
- Strengthening of disease intelligence and emergency preparedness;
- Examining the role of migratory birds in the disease spread;
- Supporting broad awareness creation and risk communication;
- Analyzing the social and economic consequences of both the disease and its control;
- Strengthening field surveillance, laboratory capabilities, and global avian influenza surveillance and early warning capabilities;
- Advising governments and building capacities on disease surveillance and control.
For more information about USDA's avian influenza efforts, go to www.usda.gov/birdflu. Information about the Center can be found at www.fao.org/ag/againfo/subjects/en/health/diseases-cards/special_avian.html.